Review: Transformers

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Film Review

First introduced by Hasbro in 1984, Transformers are toy robots in disguise
which masquerade as everyday items, such as cars, planes and animals.

The morphing action figures proved to be so popular that they were soon spun-off
into an animated TV series and Marvel comic books. And Hasbro has continued
to introduce new additions to the product line every year since.

Transformers were first brought to the big screen in 1986, but that version was a cartoon which did little more than cash-in on the television show’s appeal by serving as a bridge between second and third season.

The 2007 edition, by contrast, is a live-action Michael Bay spectacular, and arrives considerably augmented by an array of rather impressive, computer-generated special effects.

The film is likely to be appreciated most by fans already familiar with the franchise, since the picture features far too many automatons for the uninitiated to bother to keep track of. Plus, the screen is cluttered with an abundance of human characters, too, each of whom the script, to its credit, takes the time to imbue with a little personality, for better or worse.

Fortunately, a simplistic, good-versus-evil plotline makes it easy to keep score, even if you’d need a notepad to keep the players straight in your head. In 25 words or less, the action-oriented adventure reads like this: two competing races of robots, the virtuous Autobots and the evil Decepticons, have arrived on Earth from the planet Cybertron in search of the Allspark, a powerful cube critical which can unlock the secrets of the universe. One side is bent on world domination, the other on preserving the planet.

Unwittingly-enlisted to assist the latter in that endeavor is Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf), a teenager who has purchased his first car, a classic Camaro, which happens to be an Autobot. Sam is a geek with a new girlfriend, Mikaela (Megan Fox), who he somehow stole from a boy-most-likely.

The big name cast also includes Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as soldiers who survive a Decepticon attack while stationed in Qatar, Jon Voight as the U.S. Secretary of Defense, John Turturro as Agent Simmons, Anthony Anderson as computer hacker Glen Whitmann and Bernie Mac as used car salesman Bobby Bolivia.

In light of the Don Imus dismissal, the dialogue between black male and black female characters is very disturbing and distracting.

For instance, when Bobby refers to his mother as “Mammy,” she gives him the finger, whereupon he says, “If I had a rock, I’d bust your head, bitch.”

Glen isn’t much better, shown berating his grandmother unprovoked, a scene ostensibly included for nothing more than comic relief.

I’m willing to give the movie a pass in this regard only because it was undoubtedly completed well before the “nappy-headed hos” brouhaha which brought down the aforementioned shock jock. So, I trust that the seasoned comedians who probably improvised their offensive lines, here, are inclined to look for laughs elsewhere in the future.

Otherwise, Transformers gets this critic’s seal of approval as another overblown Michael Bay extravaganza, for it succeeds in bringing a cornucopia of beloved robots to life for a concatenation of epic battles worthy of a bombastic summer blockbuster. But best to check your I.Q. and political correctness at the refreshment counter to enjoy this mindless macho exercise in misogyny which promotes “Bros before hos!”

Transformers Tuesday ran off with $27.4 million in its official debut, topping the record of $15.7 million set last year by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

Excellent (3.5 stars) Rated PG-13 for profanity, brief sexual humor, and intense sci-fi violence.
Running time: 144 minutes Studio: Paramount Pictures


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